Vitali Loseu is one such passenger. The Las Colinas resident works in Dallas and used to drive into the city every day. Now he says he’s switched to taking the APT from the Bell Towers station to the DART rail line, which takes about five minutes. DART gets him about 15 minutes away from his work without driving.
“It’s quite nice because there isn’t really a path to walk there,” he said. “This really cuts the time. It’s really convenient. It takes about five minutes to get there.”
The APT system is overseen by the Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District, which was established in the mid-1980s to maintain Las Colinas’ urban center, waterways, canal boats, transit system and flood control through tax revenues. The elevated system runs on 1.5 miles of track, branching into two lines that connect opposite ends of Las Colinas along Carpenter Freeway. The tram is free to ride, with service taking place on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There are four stations: Urban Towers, 222 W. Las Colinas Blvd.; Bell Tower/Mandalay Canal, 217 Mandalay Canal; Tower 909, 909 Lake Carolyn Parkway, and a stop that is named after its address: 600 Las Colinas Blvd.
A connection to the DART Orange Line is available below the Tower 909 station. The system connects several Las Colinas attractions, including the Mandalay Canal, Trevi’s at the Omni Mandalay Hotel, Jinbeh Japanese Restaurant, Venetian Terrace and The Cellar Restaurant and Bar. The new Water Street development, which will have 50,000 square-feet of restaurant and retail space and 340 residential units, is also building an APT station.
The people mover was an integral part of Las Colinas’s master plan, with the district spending more than $30 million in 1989 to get it online. The goal was to keep office workers and shoppers out of their cars. The system carried about 500,000 passengers between 1989 and 1993 until it was shut down for budgetary reasons in the summer of 1993. It quietly reopened in 1996.
Today Knox says the system costs $1.4 million to maintain, and he says the city’s original vision for the area is coming to life now that the connection to DART is complete. “This is the first opportunity for the APT to function as it was intended,” he said.
DART opened its Urban Center Station in 2012, later finishing a connection to the APT system along with it. Since that time, the APT system has increased its operating hours.
Knox says construction in the area, such as the Water Street development, will add stops to the APT system. The addition of the Irving Entertainment Center, recently approved by the Irving City Council, will also promote the APT’s expansion. The Water Street development is already crossed by the APT system and only requires the construction of a new stop, Knox said. The entertainment center, located north of Fuller Drive, will require expansion of the APT’s tracks.
For Rick Stopfer, DART’s Orange Line to Las Colinas and planned connection to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, along with the construction of a Northwest Highway overpass in recent years, is helping bring the city’s original vision to life. Added to that is Irving’s recently approved convention center hotel and an entertainment facility.
“So much of this is now starting to come together,” he said.
Stopfer is chair of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce’s transporation management association and a DART board member. He has also served on the Irving City Council.
The APT system is a valuable tool for marketing Las Colinas, Stopfer said. Especially when you compare the area to others in the Dallas region. “It’s an opportunity as a city to have something others cities don’t have,” he said. The APT system is a convenient tool for Loseu, who plans to continue using it to access the DART rail station.
“The ride there is about 45 minutes in the car, with 635 being somewhat unreliable,” he said. “With DART, it’s been really nice. It’s a little bit of a stretch, but this way I can read a book or do something else.”
Irving/Coppell neighborsgo editor Meredith Shamburger can be reached at 214-977-8292.
Urban Towers, 222 W. Las Colinas Blvd.: The station is close to Mason’s Deli, Gateway newsstand, Ruth’s Shoe Shine, Lili’s Blooms, Sparkle and Shine Auto Detailing, Weight Watchers and Back in Touch Massage Therapy
600 Las Colinas Blvd.: Close to Murphy’s Deli and The Sundry Shop.
Bell Tower/Mandalay Canal, 217 Mandalay Canal: Close to the canal system, Trevi’s at the Omni Mandalay Hotel, Jinbeh Japanese Restaurant, Venetian Terrace and The Cellar Restaurant and Bar.
Tower 909, 909 Lake Carolyn Parkway: A connection to the DART Orange Line is available below the Tower 909 station. Mason’s Deli is also nearby.
HOW TO RIDE
Trams run 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. For on-demand service, press the button at each station.
Passengers ride for free.